Saturday, 15 March 2008

LARA Language Radio

Part of a 3-sim group, I will restrict this post to just the LARA Language Radio sim. If you choose to visit, you might like to take a wild guess as to why I've not covered the other sims.

LARA (LAnguage RAdio, geddit?) is a "Socrates* funded LARA Project [that] uses radio and Internet radio podcasting to potentially help millions of people to get to grips with learning a new language in a fun and enjoyable way... Radio Lara has the challenge of making a reality the declaration of the European Council in 2005 that learning a foreign language should be a basic skill. The project is especially aimed at excluded groups in the community."

By a curious irony, the UK partner for this is based in Coventry. Why ironic? Well the expression "sent to Coventry" specifically means that people will not talk to you... in any language!

I really should not be too hard on the sim. It is clear as you walk around it, that it is still some way from completion. There are various LARA-branded buildings dotted around the sim, but they all appear to be empty at the moment. There is a working monorail that will take you around the sim, but even with this (in theory) pulling it all together, the sim feels rather shapeless and incoherent to me. I don't know what I would have expected but I found the site somewhat flat and uninspiring. There is a map game here, but nothing else to hold one's attention (yet).

It may be the nature of the LARA project that it involves organisations from many countries and cultures, and it is therefore only the bland that gets the acceptance of all. However, I hope it is more a case of: build it quick, see what people like and don't like, then build it again. In which case, they are in the 2 phase of this approach.

Here's a few snaps. I'm not sure that they tell you much though:

The monorail...

* The Socrates funding programme has now been superseded by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme.

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